Thursday, November 5, 2015

Do Internet Health Forums Ever Help Anyone?

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    For many years I have suffered from breathing problems related to a combination of Chronic sinusitis and GERD. I have even published a couple of articles on HubPages about this. The first one was called "The Scourge of Chronic Sinusitis and GERD Combination"in which I described my symptoms and what medical help I was receiving. Four years later I published another article called "What is Really Wrong With Me?" in which I shared my my thoughts and feelings of not being able to have received any help with these conditions. I really had hoped that by publishing these articles someone would comment about how they had found something to help them, if they were suffering from the same conditions.

    I have seen a number of doctors here in the US and in Malaysia, who had no idea what I was talking about and even shrugged off my complaints.  The only diagnoses I have gotten were either GERD or Chronic Sinusitis with associated asthma symptoms. COPD was ruled out, even though I have been prescribed with COPD medications, which did not help. I have tried every inhaler and nasal spray that is on the market, with no results. Because I could not get any answers from my doctors I began visiting numerous Health Forums related to respiratory or breathing problems. On these forums I found large numbers of people suffering from the same maladies as I have been suffering with.  I have spent hours reading the accounts of their symptoms and what they have done to alleviate them.  Some of them have tried the same medications that I have tried and were helped; while others were not. The consensus was that most, if not all, of these people have been suffering, sometimes for years, but have not gotten any real relief. It is very discouraging for me and I'm sure for everyone else not to be able to get some sort of relief so that we may be able to live a normal life.

    What really makes me mad is that every once and a while a doctor will reply to some of the patients sharing their symptoms, telling them to contact their physician! On some of these health forums the patients actually pay for a online consultation and share the results on the forum. Once again they were told to contact their physicians. What kind of morons are these doctors that they don't listen to what is being said? For years we all have been going to our physicians and hearing the same thing over and over, before we're told to "learn to live with it" or some other asinine excuse for not knowing what is wrong!

    I'm not complaining about these forums, on the contrary, I am grateful to them for the support they offer me and thousands of other people. I just can't understand that after all of the forum posts over a period of years why there has not been one single healthcare professional who has offered some consolation or other ray of hope.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Do you want to get rich quick?


 



A few weeks ago I was thinking about something that I could do to earn a little extra money, while sitting at home. I am retired and I have a good deal of free time to spare, so I thought working online would be a good idea. I searched the internet looking for online jobs to make extra money. There were thousands of sites promising to make me rich. Everything from medical transcription and starting my own business to taking surveys. Many sites required and investment or possession of some sort of certification.
After some consideration I decided upon taking surveys as this did not require any investment or special training. I chose 3 sites to join and proceeded to make my fortune. I found that there are quite a number of surveys out there, but qualifying for them was most difficult. A few times I spent approximately 3 hours searching for surveys and only finding one or two where I was accepted. Many times I would be more than half way through a survey only to be disqualified for no reason. Most of the time spent was for answering questions just to qualify for a survey.
The testimonials on all of these survey sites proudly proclaim incomes in the hundreds of dollars of week for a few hours of work. The average survey I found paid about $.38 to $.50 for a 20 to thirty minute survey. Surveys that paid $1 to $2.00 required a credit card and an investment of money up front. In 7 days time, spending about 40 hours on the computer I made about $20! So if a person were to make say $200 a week, he would have to be qualified for every survey he attempted and successfully complete each of those surveys. The most he would probably earn would be $1 and hour doing 3 twenty minute surveys. He would be working approximately 200 hours to accomplish this goal. This is definitely NOT part time work and definitely NOT a way to get rich quick.The old adage, "if it's too good to be true, isn't" certainly applies here.
It has been a few months since I stopped the nonsense of filling out surveys, but I am still not free from the effects of doing the. For about a month I would receive about 3 to 4 phone calls trying to sell me health products. At first I politely refused and told the caller not to call me again, but the calls continued. Each time a different caller, each with an Indian accent, would call and ask for me as he mispronounced my name. The more calls I received the angrier I would get in telling them not to call. They seemed not to care and continued talking until I hung up. Eventually the frequency of the calls ebbed, until I would receive maybe one call a week. For now they hopefully have stopped. I would strongly recommend to anyone who wanted to make some extra cash by taking surveys that they think twice about it, an definitely do not give out a telephone number, home address or email address.



Saturday, October 31, 2015

Why Isn't God Talking With Us Anymore?







    I was raised as a Catholic and attended Catholic schools from elementary through high school. One thing that wasn't really tolerated was questioning the nuns or priests. I guess that is what made me a good Catholic. I was expected, like all good Catholics, to never question the teachings of the Church or anything the nuns or priests said for that matter. After high school and attending a public college I grew up and developed a mind of my own. As I grew older I would often lay awake at night thinking about God or religion in general. I never spoke with anyone about my thoughts and questions, as I was not looking for answers or explanations, especially from the clergy or so called religious Christians who were very public about their beliefs. I have found that many religious people, including priests and other clergy simply accept what they have been taught or told, or what they have read in the Bible and never seriously think about what they are told or read. I simply wanted and still want to explore my thoughts or have an open discussion with like minded people.
One thing I often thought about, and still do, was the number of times God has spoken to us human beings. I continue to particularly think of this as I hear about the violence and terrorism perpetrated in God’s name and wonder why God doesn’t do or say something about this. The only evidence we have that God ever talked to us is taken from the Bible. But we have to realize that the Bible was written by men to be read by people who were both uneducated and superstitious and living in a male dominated society. We also have to realize that the Bible is comprised of just a fraction of the books written and those were chosen by a group of Catholic male officials of the Church who were more interested in maintaining and growing their power than they were in historical accuracy or truthfulness.
    That being said let’s look at the times when God spoke with man. According to the Bible it appears that God spoke with a number of people. He first spoke to Adam in the Garden of Eden. Apparently God did not speak to Eve, as in keeping with the times women were not regarded with high with esteem. He spoke with Noah when he told him to build an ark in preparation for the great flood. He spoke with Moses when he gave him the Ten Commandments and then he spoke with Abraham asking him to sacrifice his only son. God also spoke to Cain after Cain killed his only brother Abel. God didn’t speak to Mary, but sent his messenger, Gabriel, to announce to her that she would give birth to Jesus. So God seemed to be quite talkative from the creation of Adam and Eve up to about 2000 years ago. What I don’t get is, why God was so talkative back then and suddenly he became silent. All through our history of wars, killings, and other types of violence he hasn’t said anything.
During the present times tens of thousands of people have been slaughtered in God’s name, but he hasn’t said a word. He hasn’t condemned those killing and perpetuating violence in his name. Hundreds of thousands of people have died in natural disasters and he has said nothing. I don’t understand why God was so verbose thousands of years ago and then suddenly went silent in modern times. Could the writers of the Bible simply be saying that God spoke to certain people in order to add some credulity to what they were teaching ignorant and uneducated people on how to behave? Was it simply a means to control the population? Many people in the present time have said that God has spoken to them, but it is either a case of trying to control people or a mental disorder. Some of our politicians have even resorted to saying that God has spoke to them, presumably to gain support from Christian Conservatives. We all have seen incidences where obviously mentally ill people have believed that God was talking to them and even thought that they were Jesus Christ. Could this be the case with those incidences in the Bible? I don’t believe that mental illness was recognized in Biblical times. I believe that in those times people suffering from mental illness were regarded as being possessed by the devil or as simply sinful.


     I still lie awake at night with the same thoughts and questions. I guess I will never know the answers to my questions. But as I grow older I want to know why God just doesn't come down from heaven in a spectacular event and just tell people to quit killing each other in his name. I don't think that will ever happen and so my questions will continue.



Saturday, September 12, 2015

Why are Prescription Medications so Expensive?




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    This is one question I keep asking myself and I am sure I am not the only one doing so, especially retirees and those on a fixed income.  Whenever we bitch and complain to our elected officials we get the same tiring answers. "I feel your pain". "We are working on it". These patronizing answers coming from members of Congress who do not have to worry about paying these high costs with their generous government health plans, do not sit well with me. They have no interest in changing anything because they are bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical companies.

    I am lucky enough not to require numerous expensive prescription drugs, but many seniors do need multiple drugs, which they must pay for on a limited fixed income. Medicare  Part D prescription drug programs help, but the newer drugs are in Tier 3 or 4, which means that they are much more expensive. Those drug plans that do have a lower copay also have a higher premium. So they rob you either way. What really sickens me is the amount of advertising the drug companies do to promote their most popular or newest drugs! How many suffering people watch these ads that offer hope for relieving pain and alleviating symptoms of chronic health problems and feel hopeless because they cannot afford to buy them?

    When I lived in Malaysia I took the same medicines that I take now in the US. I didn't have a drug plan there, but I still paid less than 1/3 of what I do now. Of course the airways and print media did not bombard the public with costly drug ads.  I used to work in the Longwood Medical Area section of Boston, which was a center for healthcare, medical research and education and Harvard Medical School. I can remember constant construction involving the building of numerous multi-million dollar state of the art pharmaceutical research facilities. I could not help thinking that every time I saw a new building go up the cost of prescription drugs would skyrocket!

    I realize that research for new drugs is very expensive and construction is too, but as well as assuring the best of salaries and facilities, the drug companies should also try to assure that their drugs are affordable to all who need them, not just the wealthy. If their drugs are really good and effective,  word of mouth and patient and doctor affirmation will sell them. They don't need billion dollar ad campaigns, which help drive up the costs, for those who need help the most!  I don't feel at all hopeful for the future because I feel the main purpose of the big pharmaceutical companies is to make money, not to alleviate suffering on a wide scale!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Why is Dental Care in the US So Very Expensive?

 


 When we lived in Malaysia our home was right across the street from a dental clinic, which was one of many on the island. This clinic was as modern or probably more modern than most I have seen in the US. The equipment was state of the art and the dentists were all trained in Germany or other countries in Europe, as well as the highly rated dental schools in Malaysia. When I knew that we would be soon going to the US to live,  Kevin and I made a trip to our local dentist to get a check up and work done , if needed, as we knew dentistry in the US was expensive. Kevin had 2 wisdom teeth removed and I had a filling and a bridge made. The total cost for the two of us was about 500 US dollars for excellent work.

    Now we live in the US and of course I chipped a couple of teeth and I need a couple of fillings. I knew that it was inevitable that I had to visit the dentist.  I began the process of searching for a dentist, even though I knew there would probably not be too much of a difference in the cost. I asked around and discovered that no one dentist came highly recommended, so I randomly chose one near where we live.

    The dreaded day came when I made my initial visit to the dental office. I must say it was a pleasant experience, as the dentist and his staff were very cordial and explained everything to me. The first day I had an examination and x-rays, which were expected. I was told that a number of teeth would have to have work done on them at some time in the future. Again this was expected. The cost for this visit was a little over $300. The following week received a filling in one of my teeth which was chipped. The cost $495!!!!  At this rate it will cost me thousands to have my teeth taken care of.  In just 2 visits to the dentist in the US I have spend almost as much as 7 years of dental care for both Kevin and myself! As with most people we do not have any dental insurance, which also is quite costly and does not cover much of the dental care. The cost had to go on a credit card, which will probably max out after a few more of the procedures!

    I knew dental care would be expensive here, but I was still shocked to see the exorbitant rates that were charged.  Dental insurance can be much more expensive than medical insurance and it only  covers a certain percentage of the costs.  There are various dental plans which offer discounts on dental work and are more affordable, but the problem is finding a dentist who accepts these plans.
I am sure that there are millions of people, especially seniors and children who go without much needed dental care because they simply cannot afford the outlandish costs. Dental care in the US is more expensive than any other developed country in the world. In Europe no one is denied dental care because of their inability to pay and other countries offer assistance in paying for dental care. When is the US going to wise up and realize that dental health is inextricably linked to overall physical health?  Soon in this country we will be able to ascertain the financial status of a person by looking at their smile!

    Looking at the high cost of dental insurance and dental procedures I have come to the conclusion that it would be cheaper to buy a ticket to Malaysia  and stay a couple of weeks to have our dental work done than to have it done here!

Ablog about liberal politics andsocial issues